Abbazia di Fiastra di Tolentino

 Max and I did pretty well with our separate accommodations in Italy, but after two weeks apart and one almost breakdown at school we needed a little retreat.  It was actually a little embarrassing, because in order to get where we were going...we needed a ride.  So my host family drove us to Tolentino (about 45 minutes away) and I felt like my Mom had driven us to the bowling alley for our first date.  There were many things that made us feel like children, but this thing really took the cake.

Anyway, we decided to spend the weekend at Abbazia di Fiastra di Tolentino - the Monastery on the Fiastra River in Tolentino.  Across from the Monastery (above) they have a little guest house.  After yet another ginourmous dinner, this time at  Ristorante Da Rosa, and a good night's sleep, we toured the monastery in the morning.  It was constructed by the Cistercian Order, a shoot from the Benedictine Order, in the 13th century.  The Cistercians place a heavy emphasis on manual labor and self sufficiency - their distance from main centers of commerce and habitation make this somewhat necessary even today.  Evidently they are also known as "Why Monks" because of the white habit they wear though sometimes covered with a black apron.      

The Refractory above.   Below is a picture of the vast 
tunnel system underneath the monastery where
they store their wine.   

The Abbazia di Fiastra and its environs have become a nature reserve in recent years and in the afternoon Max's host family drove to meet us for a long walk and a picnic.  The views were just spectacular and for the first time I felt like I could understand the draw to a monastery - like this one anyway.  You work hard, make your own goods, read scripture, and take walks through gorgeous landscapes.  Other than the permanent single-ness it didn't sound too bad in that moment.  
When we emerged from the forest you see in the background, there was a long row of these little berry trees.  Little Fabio ran straight to one, pulled it down, and started eating the berries.  Red and purple stains covered his hands in minutes.  The rest of the family joined in and who were we to buck tradition?  It was like a little fairy tale where we walked through the trees and lived off of the land - at least for one afternoon.    (L-R, Franco, Fabio, Chinzia)
 The Abbazia was also a stronghold for the liberation forces of Italy during WWII.  As we supped on sausage and pasta we looked up and noticed this plaque.  Max, with his ridiculous ability to understand other languages, told me what it meant.  It says something about how the liberation forces fighting against Mussolini met in this very lodge to plan their attack against him in the regions of Chienti, Macerata, and Tolentino.  They were successful in taking back these regions.


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